The decision of the Supreme Court of Kenya (Court) in Francis Karioko Muruatetu and Another v. Republic (Muruatetu), finding the mandatory nature of the death penalty unconstitutional, represents not only a victory for human rights in Africa but also the transformative capacity of contemporary constitutions in Africa and the growing assertiveness of African judiciaries. In the judgment, the Court held that the mandatory death penalty is “out of sync with the progressive Bill of Rights” in Kenya's 2010 Constitution (para. 64) and an affront to the rule of law. The Court also relied on global death penalty jurisprudence to find the mandatory death sentence “harsh, unjust and unfair” (para. 48). Consequently, the Court mandated that all trial courts conduct a pre-sentencing hearing to determine whether the death penalty is deserved. The Court's judgment could spell the end of the mandatory death penalty in Kenya after almost 120 years on the statute books.
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